General Guillaume Joseph Nicolas de Lafon-Blaniac
Born: July 25, 1773
Place of Birth: Villeneuve-sur-Lot, Lot-et-Garonne, France
Died: September 28, 1833
Place of Death: Vico, France
Arc de Triomphe: LAFON-BLANIAC on the south pillar
The son of a councilor to the court of aides and finances of Guyenne, Guillaume Joseph Nicolas Lafon-Blaniac entered the army as a sous-lieutenant in the 5th Chasseurs à Cheval in September of 1792. Serving with the Army of the North, he fought at the Battle of Hondschoote in September of 1793 and then the next month he fought at the action of Furnes where he was wounded in the right leg by the blast of a shell. In July of 1794 Lafon-Blaniac was again wounded, this time by a shot to the thigh near Nieuport. In 1795 he was promoted to lieutenant in the 18th Dragoons and he served in the Army of the Western Pyrenees. The next year Lafon-Blaniac joined the Army of Italy and then on January 14, 1797 he was wounded by a saber blow to the face at the combat of Anghiari as part of the preliminaries of the Battle of Rivoli . That same day he received a promotion to capitaine on the battlefield. Lafon-Blaniac next joined Augereau's division.
In 1798 Lafon-Blaniac he was attached to Boyer's staff in the Army of the Orient. After arriving in Egypt, in July of 1809 he was wounded by a saber blow to the right thigh at the combat of Damanhour. Less than a week later Lafon-Blaniac was promoted to chef d'escadrons in the 20th Dragoons. He participated in the expedition to Syria and in May of 1799 he covered the retreat near Nablus. In July of 1800 Lafon-Blaniac was named chief of staff of the cavalry of the Army of the Orient. The next year he served at the Battle of Canope in March where he was grievously wounded, being riddled with bayonet wounds and being shot at point blank range. Despite his wounds, in April Lafon-Blaniac was promoted to chef de brigade of the 14th Dragoons by the commander-in-chief in Egypt General Menou. That August he took part in the final fighting with the British before the French surrender in Egypt, and during the fight Lafon-Blaniac was wounded by a shot to the right hand.
Back in France, Lafon-Blaniac served in garrison at Angers from 1802 to 1803 and then he joined Klein's cavalry division. He served during the campaign of 1805 against the Third Coalition and he fought at the Battle of Austerlitz in December. In January of 1806 Lafon-Blaniac was named an equerry to King Joseph Bonaparte of Naples and he took charge of the 6th Chasseurs à Cheval of the Army of Naples. In March he joined Franceshi's brigade and then he served under Reynier at Cosenza. That September Lafon-Blaniac was promoted to général de brigade and he later served in command of the principalities of Ponte Corvo and Benevento before commanding the city of Naples. In May of 1807 he became chief of staff to the government of Naples and in July he was named inspector general of cavalry.
When King Joseph left Naples for Spain in 1808, Lafon-Blaniac was promoted to général de division and named an aide-de-camp to Joseph. In December of 1810 he was named governor of Madrid, a position he would hold until 1812. In March of 1812 Lafon-Blaniac was named governor of the province of La Mancha and he took command of the advance guard of the Army of the Center. In July he returned to Madrid as governor again and he took command of the troops of the provinces of Madrid, Toledo, and Guadalajara. In June of 1813 Lafon-Blaniac took part in the Battle of Vitoria where his right forearm was broken by a shot.
In November of 1813 Lafon-Blaniac returned to the service of France and then in January he took command of the cavalry of the Army of the Reserve of Italy. After Napoleon's abdication and the Bourbon Restoration, Lafon-Blaniac continued to be employed. He was named commander of the Gironde and a Knight of Saint Louis. When Napoleon returned to power in 1815 for the Hundred Days, Lafon-Blaniac was employed as inspector general of cavalry at Aucenis. After the Second Restoration, he was put on non-activity.
- Divry, Arnauld. Les Noms Gravés sur l'Arc de Triomphe. Paris: L'Harmattan, 2017.
- Six, Georges. Dictionnaire Biographique des Généraux & Amiraux Français de la Révolution et de l'Empire (1792-1814). 2 vols. Paris: Gaston Saffroy, 2003.
Updated June 2019
© Nathan D. Jensen